News relating to folding screens – and sometimes flexible displays – seems to be on course to overtake virtual reality as the top technology trend to watch in the coming years, and LG has just continued that trend by filing two more patents. The two most recent patents have been filed in the U.S. under patent numbers US D777,131 S and US D777,132 S. Both of the patent numbers apply directly to smartphones.
The two LG patent designs show a device that folds open or closed on the front of the device, with the back of the device remaining unchanged during opening or closing. Where they differ is in precisely how they fold. US D777,131 S shows a device that folds similarly to how a brochure or pamphlet folds, with one side folding over the other when the device is not opened up. By contrast, US D777,132 S shows a device that folds more like a set of cupboards – with the two outer edges folding in towards the middle and meeting in the middle. There are likely to be other differences as well if the devices ever come to fruition, as there is at least one use that these patents could cover. Since overall screen size increases dramatically when the device shown in the patent opens up, the most obvious may be to allow LG to create hybrid devices that function as both a tablet or smartphone.
While LG is not the only company with filings related to smartphones that fold. US D777,131 S and US D777,132 S differ from those of other companies in the way the devices are shown to fold. For example, Samsung's Patents revealed devices that fold in half like a book – with both sides of the device being comprised of display materials when it is closed. LG is also not new to folding screens. In late December, it was reported that the company was even working with Apple and Google to develop the technology. It will be intriguing should anything similar to the filed designs finds its way into real-world Android devices. However, it is also important to remember that patents are not always used.